I took this photograph of Frieda sitting at the bar with a cigarette in her mouth right after she had lit it. The No Smoking laws were already in effect and even though most of the regulars were getting used to walking outside the door of the pub to have a cigarette in the cold and lean up against the facade of the building, Frieda just did not give a damn'. I remember hearing one of the barmaids telling her that she would have to smoke outside, but she continued to puff away and didn't seem to even acknowledge their request. And they weren't about to tell her to leave.. she was a welcome regular and added some flavor to the milieu without a doubt. Someone told me that she would get gussied up for a night out in the Palm Gardens and take a car service from the adult home where she lived.
She was full of life and I believe I took this photograph on New Year's Eve. She got up and danced with another regular Mike and I took some pictures of them in the small dive bar. I don't believe I ever met up with Frieda again after that night and when she died several years later or maybe it was just a year, I found out and of course, was deeply saddened that such a wonderful spirit, so full of life and chutzpah had passed on.
|"Frieda Smoking", Rockaways, NYC, 2003. ©Juliana Beasley|
The second photograph, I took of Deuce. I never learned his real name, but this is the name he went by when I met him sitting in a lounge chair in Paddy's boarding house that was in a dire state of disrepair. Supposedly, Deuce also living in an adult home for the elderly, but like so many of the institutionalized that I met over the years, he preferred to spend his golden years drinking away his days watching TV for hours in a comfy lounge chair. I often found him there for hours on end sitting with Paddy with an end table between them cluttered with cigarette butts in several ashtrays and empty Guinness cans. They occasionally would exchange a couple of words and usually it was speckled with very vulgar profanities with little regard to my presence in the room. Paddy would be reading his newspapers compulsively-- the room was scattered with piles of old newspapers-- and all the time the television provided a background noise. They would cackle and laugh and tell crass jokes about women, but they rarely made eye contact.
I will never forget the day when I noticed that Deuce had a photo of a spaniel dog in his breast pocket of his suede jacket. I asked him if he had ever had a dog and yes, of course, he had. This question provided a catalyst for all three men including my friend, Charlie who began to lament about the dogs who they had loved in their lives and who had sadly died. Each one told the story of their lost dear friend and their eyes filled with tears and they were filled with sadness.
|"Deuce with Dog in Pocket", Rockaways, NYC. ©Juliana Beasley|